English and American Literature at Kent covers all periods of literature from Chaucer to the Contemporary. It teaches you to make connections across cultures, genres and historical moments and, in the process, ask searching contemporary questions.
Kent’s School of English is an energetic and enterprising department. Several of our staff are published authors and poets and there are also numerous internationally recognised scholars. We try to ensure that you are taught by different lecturers with varying approaches, so that, throughout your degree, you encounter fresh ideas and new authors.
Seminars form a crucial part of your learning experience and you are able to express your own ideas and opinions. We keep our class sizes small to ensure you receive as much individual attention as possible.
Our degree programme
This programme opens students to the possibilities of transatlantic exchange (with literature from the United States and Canada) and, through a range of specialist modules, the study of global literatures in English including the literature of Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, India and the Caribbean.
In your first year, you take one compulsory module on the Romantic period (1780-1830) and choose two modules from areas such as early English drama, 20th-century literature and American texts. You then choose optional modules, which can include modules from other programmes and subjects.
You study broad periods and genres of English and American literature and explore a variety of critical approaches in your second and final years. You take two modules in pre-1800 literature and then choose from a broad range of additional modules covering modern American literature, modernism, Shakespeare and Victorian literature.
In your final year, you move into specialised areas of study. Our specialist modules explore specific authors, genres or topics and have previously included contemporary British and Irish poetry, Thomas Hardy, the graphic novel, Native American Literature, the Brontës and postcolonial writing. You can also opt to complete a supervised dissertation.
It is possible to spend a year on placement gaining valuable workplace experience and increasing your professional contacts. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply.
You can study abroad at one of our partner universities between the second and final year. Previous destinations include the US, Canada, Europe and Hong Kong. For details, see English and American Literature with an Approved Year Abroad.
There are a variety of literary activities at Kent. Students in the School of English publish a magazine of their creative writing, poetry and prose. There are also a number of student-run societies with a literary theme. In previous years these have included the:
- Creative Writing Society
- T24 Drama Society
- Poetry Society
- Literature Society.
The student newspaper, InQuire, is run by the student union and gives you the opportunity to develop your writing skills and to gain valuable work experience in journalism.
The School of English runs research seminars, workshops and social events, as well as a successful creative writing series of readings, where well-known writers and publishers share their experiences and skills. Previous guests include:
- Iain Sinclair
- Patience Agbabi
- Terry Eagleton.
All our students receive free membership to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in central London, giving you access to the ICA’s facilities and a small number of internships.
In the National Student Survey 2016, 95% of our English students were satisfied with the quality of teaching. For graduate prospects, English was ranked 14th in The Times Good University Guide 2017.
Teaching Excellence Framework
Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.
The course structure below gives a flavour of the modules available to you and provides details of the content of this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
In Stage 1, you study our compulsory module EN333 Romanticism and Critical Theory; you also choose at least 60 credits from the list of Stage 1 modules. In addition to the 30-credit modules listed below, the School of English has recently introduced two 15-credit term-long modules, EN334 Introduction to Creative Writing: Ideas and Practice and EN335 Books that Shaped Culture: An Introduction to Literature, both of which are available for all English and American Literature students.
You can take all English modules, but you do also have the option to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes offered by the University in order to explore other subject areas.
In Stages 2 and 3 you choose four optional modules per year, some of which are listed below. At least two of the modules you take over Stage 2 and 3 must be in pre-1800 literature. You also have the option in Stage 3 to take a long essay module, which allows you to research and write in an area of particular interest or to complete a dissertation within one of your final-year modules.
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EN333 - Romanticism and Critical Theory
This year-long course examines some of the most significant writing of the Romantic period (1780-1830) - a period in which the role and forms of literature were being redefined - alongside recent debates in critical theory. You will study a wide range of literary texts from the poetry of Blake, Wordsworth and Keats to the novels of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley, with reference to contemporary literary and political debates and against the backdrop of the periods turbulent history. In parallel, this module explores fundamental critical questions about literature: Why read it? What is an author? What is the role of poetry in society? How is literature shaped by culture? What is Art? Continuities and disjunctions between Romantic writers answers to these questions and those provided by more recent literary theorists will be a central concern of the course.Read more
EN302 - Early Drama
This module will introduce students to a range of medieval and early modern dramatic genres, from ninth-century Latin church drama to the commercial theatres of Elizabethan London. Students will learn about methods for analysing past performances and existing texts, as well as how drama interacted with and responded to pivotal moments in British history, and the culture, politics and religion of the period. As such, the module will function as an introduction to medieval and early modern studies more broadly and a platform from which to undertake early English literature and drama modules at Years 2 and 3. Students will read and discuss playtexts in modern translations, both as literary objects and live performance events. Regular optional site visits and screenings will contribute to students' understanding of the drama's contexts, how plays might work in performance and to what extent they still speak to twenty-first century audiences.
Lectures and seminars are designed to be varied and interactive, with the opportunity for everyone to participate and to develop academic skills. The module is assessed by seminar contributions, creative and research-based coursework and a final end-of-year project, which will allow students the freedom to explore a topic of their choice creatively.Read more
EN331 - Readings in the Twentieth Century
This module emphasizes the links between literature, history, and culture. It introduces students to the formative events, debates and struggles of the twentieth century, and how these have been addressed by different modes of creative and critical writing. Topics such as Modernism, the Holocaust, the US culture industry, postcolonial studies and neoliberalism will be considered and discussed in relation to fictional and critical literature, films, photography, graphic novels, music, and other media. Weekly screenings will run alongside lectures and seminar discussions. Literary works across all genres will be read in relation to visual material such as paintings, photography, feature and documentary films and a range of selected critical reading. The majority of writing samples are drawn from English, American and more broadly Anglophone writing, though several instances of writing in other languages will also be included (all taught in translation).Read more
EN332 - Writing America
This module aims to emphasize connections between literature and culture in the USA, from early considerations of a distinct American literature to the present day. By way of six key themes or preoccupations, the module will introduce students to some of the major debates and antagonisms, and rhetorical and stylistic modes, that have formed and modified American literary and intellectual culture Questions of Belief, Gender, Race, Economy, Space, and Time will be approached through a range of textual forms set against their historical contexts and within the broader nexus of cultural production including the visual performing arts where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to examine the specific local, regional, and national frameworks within which these texts are produced, but also to look at the ways in which they resist and transcend national boundaries, in the development of an American register in world literatures for instance.Read more
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EN672 - Reading Victorian Literature
This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of Victorian literature. It will equip students with critical ideas that will help them become more skilful and confident readers of texts in and beyond this period. Students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts: environmental (for example, considering the effects of urbanisation and the Industrial Revolution); imaginative (examining a variety of genres: for example fable, dream-vision, novel); political (class conflicts, changing gender roles, ideas of nation and empire); and psychological (representations of growing up, courtship, sibling and parent-child relationships, dreams and madness). Students will be made aware of such critical concepts as realism and allegory and will be encouraged to think about various developments of literary form in the period.Read more
EN675 - Declaring Independence: 19th Century US Literature
When the Long Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the United States were historys greatest poem he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jeffersons dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.
In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such Old World traditions as racialized slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.Read more
EN677 - The Contemporary
This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where 'contemporary' is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, and financial crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: new conceptualism and the claim to unoriginality; archival poetics; the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. The weekly topics will often alternate between thematic and formal concerns.Read more
EN681 - Novelty, Enlightenment and Emancipation: 18th Century Literature
Before 1660 there was no English novel, and by the end of the eighteenth century there was Jane Austen. This module asks how such a literary revolution was possible. It investigates the rise of professional authorship in an increasingly open marketplace for books. With commercial expansion came experiment and novelty. Genres unheard of in the Renaissance emerged for the first time: they include the periodical essay, autobiography, the oriental tale, amatory fiction, slave narratives and, most remarkably, the modern novel. Ancient modes such as satire, pastoral and romance underwent surprising transformations. Many eighteenth-century men and women felt that they lived in an age of reason and emancipation although others warned of enlightenments darker aspect. Seminar reading reflects the fact that an increasing number of women, members of the labouring classes, and African slaves wrote for publication; that readers themselves became more socially varied; and that Britain was growing to understand itself as an imperial nation within a shifting global context. It asks students to reflect, as eighteenth-century writers did, upon the literary, cultural and political implications of these developmentsRead more
EN689 - Modernism
This module features key modernist texts, for example the work of Ezra Pound, H.D., T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Jean Rhys. It also makes substantial reference to key philosophical theories of modernity and textuality. The literary works are taken mostly from a restricted period 1910-1930. One focus in the module will be the notion of the artist as applied to the writer as an art-practitioner. Other texts which might form part of the curriculum may include a limited selection of works by Mina Loy, Wyndham Lewis,, Elizabeth Bowen, F.T. Marinetti, Samuel Beckett, Georg Lukács, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Jacques Derrida and Paul De Man. Other topics include modes of representation, language and experience, colonialism and modernism, textuality and identity, war and democracy, class and politics, cosmopolitanism and bohemianism, sex, morality and city life. This material requires both theoretical and historical orientation, as well as skill in distilling significance from complex literary artefacts with regard to the network of mediations which both bind such works to their apparent context and appear to dislocate them.Read more
EN692 - Early Modern Literature 1500-1700
This module offers a survey of early modern literature from 1500 to 1700. Looking at a wide range of literature including poetry, prose and drama, students will consider the relationship between literary debate and form on the one hand, and political change, social identity and religious transformation on the other. We will consider how important debates surrounding political, social, gender and religious identity inflect and are reflected in the literature of the period, including works by Baldwin, Shakespeare, Donne, Lanyer, Marvell, Milton, Katherine Phillips, Behn and Pepys. Students will explore the boundaries of the literary canon, encountering pamphlets, petitions, sermons and conduct books, for example and consider the ways in which literary and non-literary texts both mirror and influence culture and society.Read more
EN694 - Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama
The drama of early modern England broke new literary and dramatic ground. This module will focus on key plays across the period. It will explore the development of dramatic writing, the status of playing companies within the London theatres, drama's links to court entertainment and its relationship to the provinces. Dramatic and literary form will be a central preoccupation alongside issues of characterisation, culture, politics, and gender. Shakespeare's work will be put into context in relation to the plays of his contemporary dramatists as well as the various cultural, historical and material circumstances that influenced the composition, performance and publication of drama in early modern England.Read more
EN695 - Empire, New Nations and Migration
This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.Read more
EN697 - Chaucer and Late Medieval English Literature
This course introduces students to a range of writings from the late medieval and Tudor period. It focuses on a number of central genres in English writing that emerge between the late fourteenth and early sixteenth centuries, including romance, fabliaux, satirical, and religious writing. The course is designed to introduce a genre or theme with reference to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and his other writings, especially his lyrics and shorter poetry, thus allowing this accessible author to initiate the students in issues that will be pertinent in respect of less familiar writers and writings.
The themes and theories covered by the course will vary from year to year in response to the lecture programme and to the emphases made by individual teachers, but they will include such topics as authorship, reading, patronage, translation, gender, sexuality, iconography, piety, personal identity, imagination, historicism, legend, medievalism, representation, audience, and the move from manuscript to print.Read more
EN721 - American Modernities: US Literature in the 20th Century
This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", American culture and the place of the urban in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of modernism as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of modernist literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and creative destruction in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called The American Century.Read more
Year in industry
All our undergraduate degrees are also available with a year in industry. For more information about this option please see Placement Year.
Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.
All students within the Faculty of Humanities can apply to spend a Term or Year Abroad as part of their degree at one of our partner universities in North America, Asia or Europe. You are expected to adhere to any progression requirements in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to proceed to the Term or Year Abroad.
The Term or Year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. To find out more, please see Go Abroad.
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EN722 - Global Capitalism and the Novel
This module examines the relationship between global capitalism and the novel since the 1980s. By arguing for the centrality of capital and class in the understanding of contemporary post-colonial literature, it reveals how a vibrant global realism has emerged that speaks to the new urban realities of massive rural migration to the city, exploding slum life, and more polarized class inequalities in the global South. It will explore how neoliberal globalization both makes possible and is critiqued by new realist narratives of abjection and resistance from across the global South, especially from India, Nigeria, South Africa, Martinique, Chile, and Egypt.Read more
EN723 - The Gothic: Origins and Exhumations, 1800 to the Present
This module explores the Gothic from its eighteenth-century origins to its present-day incarnations, examining in particular the conventions that have allowed this diverse and evolving genre to remain at once relevant and recognisable. The course focuses on the elements of terror, hauntings and transgressions and how these conventions are deployed and reworked by writers in key literary and historical moments in the genre's development, such as at the end of the end of the eighteenth century, the fin de siècle, post-war America and the millennium. It asks students to consider the Gothic within the social, political and cultural contexts that inform the novels various concerns about gender, sexuality, race, class and the law. There will be a strong emphasis on examining and exploring the theoretical discourses underpinning the shifts and developments in the major critical debates and trends. Students will be encouraged to relate textual and critical analysis to topics such as aesthetics, popular culture and literature, religion, social and political history as well as contemporary concerns such as marginalization, queer identity, the body and immigration. The module will demonstrate the ongoing significance of the Gothic as an experimental and evolving form that functions as a vehicle for political and social critiques and, as such, relates to concerns central to the study of undergraduate English and American literature.Read more
EN724 - Holy Lives, Horrid Deaths: Medieval Saints and their Cults
The module provides students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of the important medieval genre of hagiography, and to place it within changing contexts of scholarly reception. While the main focus will be upon written saints' lives, students will also be encouraged to consider visual and material evidence (wall paintings, stained glass, manuscript illustrations, the cult of relics). Materials from across Europe (where written, in translation) may be studied for comparative purposes. The module will be structured around a series of themes, which might include: local (Kentish) saints; gender; miracle-working; and patronage. These may vary from year to year.Read more
EN701 - The Global Eighteenth Century
This module encourages exploration of British interactions with the world beyond Europe during the eighteenth century. The so-called Orient and the New World became sites of exchange but also domination. New hybrid cultural forms emerged from these exchanges and appropriations. We will investigate a variety of texts that depict non-European people and places, as well as texts written by foreign and colonial peoples, to arrive at a critical understanding of cross-cultural and transnational influences at home and abroad. We will address and debate such topics as 'Cosmopolitanism in the Eighteenth Century', Foreign Influence on British Identity, Sympathy and Sensibility, The Material Culture of Empire, Exoticism, Poetics of Slavery, The Black Atlantic, and Transatlantic Culture. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the postcolonial study of eighteenth-century literature and the ethical and political implications of these texts and the ways in which we choose to approach them.Read more
EN708 - Virginia Woolf
This module examines the development of Virginia Woolf's writing across the span of her life. It explores Woolfs most important modernist texts alongside some of her lesser-known writings, and considers a range of literary genres she wrote in (novels, essays, short stories, auto/biography). As well as paying close attention to the distinct style of modernist literature, there will be consideration of various historical, cultural, philosophical, political and artistic contexts that influenced, and were influenced by, Woolfs writing. Students will be introduced to the key critical debates on Woolf, featuring discussion of topics as diverse as feminism, visual art, the everyday, war, sexuality, gender, class, empire, science, nature and animality. With Woolf as its central focus, this module therefore seeks to understand the lasting significance of modernist literature.Read more
EN709 - Animals, Humans, Writing
What is the relationship between 'animal' and 'human', and how is this explored through writing? This module seeks to examine creaturely relations by focusing on literature from the early 19th century up to the present, alongside key theoretical and contextual material that engages with questions concerning animality and humanity. We will focus on how writers imagine distinct animal worlds as well as how they understand the role of animals in human cultures. A range of novels, short stories and poems will raise questions about how we look at, think with, and try to give voice to animals, and topics covered will include 'Becoming Animal', 'Listening to Animals', 'Animal Experiments' and 'Tasting Animals'. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the diverse critical field known as 'animal studies', whilst also considering the broader cultural, philosophical and ethical implications of how we think about the relationship between humans and animals.Read more
EN713 - The New Woman: 1880-1920
The New Woman, a controversial figure who became prominent in British literature in the late nineteenth century, challenged traditional views of femininity and represented a more radical understanding of women's nature and role in society. She was associated with a range of unconventional behaviour from smoking and bicycle-riding to sexuality outside marriage and political activism. This module will examine some of the key literary texts identified with the New Woman phenomenon including women's journalism in the period. The module's reading will be organised around central thematic concerns such as: sexuality and motherhood; suffrage and politics; career and creativity. We will consider to what extent the New Woman was a media construction or whether the term reflected the lives of progressive women in the period. This module will also examine how the New Woman became a global phenomenon, beginning with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, before spreading to literature produced around the world by writers from Britain (eg Amy Levy, Evelyn Sharp) America (Charlotte Perkins Gilman), Australia (George Egerton), and New Zealand (Katherine Mansfield). The module will also consider the legacy of the New Woman into the early modernist period, through studying Virginia Woolfs novel that depicts the suffrage movement, Night and Day.Read more
EN714 - Utopia: Philosophy and Literature
The module examines some key texts in the theory and literary presentation of utopia. In the first part of the module we will examine classic early utopian texts (Plato, More) and will set these in the context of the modern theory of historical progress (Hegel) the failure of that progress to materialise (Agamben) and the nature of hope for the future (Bloch). In the second part of the module, we will examine modern classics which look at the failure of the communist utopia (Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell) and at later texts which revived the genre of utopia (LeGuin, Atwood).Read more
EN717 - The Graphic Novel
This module focuses on the exploration of the graphic novel as a visual and literary medium. The module will interpret the term graphic novel broadly, and incorporate discussions of comic books, political cartoons, as well as film and television adaptations as a part of its curriculum. The module will begin with an examination of the more mature aesthetic that became increasingly popular for graphic novels during the late 1980s, and examine how these developments have continued to evolve to the present day. Strong emphasis will be placed on readings informed by sociological and political discourses. Students will be encouraged to relate their close analysis of texts to topics such as the distinctions between art and popular culture, and the connections between literary and social history, as well as contemporary concerns such as identity politics, neo-liberal capitalism, protest, and anarchy. As such, the module will demonstrate how the study of graphic novels directly relates to several key concerns in the study of undergraduate English.Read more
EN676 - Cross-Cultural Coming-of-Age Narratives
If the Bildungsroman has been criticised for being outmoded and conservative, how do contemporary writers interrogate and expand its scope and importance? Are coming-of-age narratives merely private stories or can they be read in ways which highlight their social functions, and what kind of theoretical, aesthetic and cultural perspectives can we apply to scrutinise these functions? This module will bring together a range of texts and films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that can be read within and against the literary tradition of the Bildungsroman or the coming-of-age narrative. Drawing on material from the US, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe, we will spend time analysing the representation of the coming-of-age experience in terms of content and form and assess the ideological functions of the Bildungsroman in a cross-cultural context. Particular attention will be given to questions of racial and ethnic identity, migration, colonialism, memory, trauma, belonging and sexuality. We will also explore the connection of the Bildungsroman with genres such as autobiography, family memoir, young adult fiction, graphic novel, and film. Writers studied in this module include Richard Wright, Jamaica Kincaid, Sandra Cisneros, Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Marjane Satrapi, and we will watch films including My Beautiful Laundrette and Bend it Like Beckham.Read more
EN580 - Charles Dickens and Victorian England
This module gives an opportunity for intensive study of one of the major novelists of Victorian England. There are many different views and interpretations of Dickens circulating in our culture. He has been dismissed as a writer of cosy sentimentality, celebrated as a radical critic of his age, and admired for his prodigious output and creative innovation.
Studying a selection of his fiction, we will consider a wide variety of interpretations, in the light of the most current literary criticism of Dickens's works. We will analyse Dickenss texts in terms of narrative method, genre, characterisation, imagery and book history and in the process we will examine how the novels respond to, or challenge, significant aspects of Victorian culture and society such as class, gender, family, nation, childhood, the city, empire, industrialisation, and modernity.Read more
EN583 - Postcolonial Writing
The module raises students' awareness of contemporary issues in postcolonial writing, and the debates around them. This includes a selection of important postcolonial texts (which often happen to be major contemporary writing in English) and studies their narrative practice and their reading of contemporary culture. It focuses on issues such as the construction of historical narratives of nation, on identity and gender in the aftermath of globalisation and 'diaspora, and on the problems associated with creating a discourse about these texts.Read more
EN588 - Innovation and Experiment in New York, 1945-2015
The module is structured around poetry and fiction produced in New York since the Second World War. The emphasis is on New York's experimental and avant-garde traditions, and one organising principle is the inter-connectedness of the arts in New York. The module introduces students to some of the main areas of culture in the city, from the New York school of poetry through Abstract Expressionism, early Punk and on to post-modern fiction. Writers to be studied will include John Cage, Barbara Guest, William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Patti Smith and Paul Auster.Read more
EN604 - The Unknown: Reading and Writing
The Unknown asks you to think creatively and analytically and to learn by a combination of careful reading and experimental writing. You will be able to read a variety of important literary and critical texts published over the last 200 years mostly in the last 50 years. You will be asked to use the skills of critical analysis and close reading developed elsewhere in your degree in new ways and to take a fresh look at the study of literature. The course draws on the ideas writers have about writing, as well as on psychoanalysis, literary theory, fiction, poetry, drama and film. It asks you to think deeply about how, and why, you read and write.Read more
EN633 - Bodies of Evidence: Reading The Body In Eighteenth Century Literature
This module explores the eighteenth century fascination with bodies and the truths (or lies) bodies were supposed to reveal. Our focus will be on the ways in which the body is read and constructed in eighteenth-century literature and how these readings and constructions reflect various concerns about class, race, gender and sexuality. Efforts to regulate the body (particularly the female, plebeian and racialised body) became the focus of many reformers and philanthropists in the period who sought to recuperate the productive (and reproductive) labour of idle or transgressive bodies to serve the nation's moral and financial economies. Other writers, however, emphasised the body's potential to work against social and cultural norms, focusing on events such as the masquerade, in which women dressed as men and aristocrats as chimney sweeps.
Through the course of this module we will examine a range of literary representations of the body which seek both the control the body and to celebrate its disruptive potential. We will read texts from a variety of genres including medical literature, misogynist satire, sentimental novels, popular fiction, travel writing and pornography. Primary texts will be read alongside recent critical work by Thomas Lacquer, Michel Foucault, Roy Porter, and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, which illuminate the ideological stakes writers played for when writing about the body. Topics for discussion will include disability and deformity, race, the sentimental body, dress and the body, the body as text and the relationship between the body and the body politic. The primary focus of this option will be literature, but we will also examine visual representations of the body in caricature and satire as well as in the portraiture.Read more
EN655 - Places and Journeys
This module explores places and journeys shaped by key modern historical processes: migration, travel, immigration, dispossession, colonial conquest, and post-colonial independence. From immigrant arrival and dislocation to national journeys and political fantasy, the course explores connections between journeys, locations, and literary production. The main objective is to think about places and journeys as sites and processes of negotiation and contradiction, convergence and discord, clash and reconciliation. Specific locations include: London, East Africa, and the Caribbean. Writers and texts include: Merle Collins (Angel), Naguib Mahfouz (Cairo Modern), Jean Rhys (Voyage in the Dark), and Sam Selvon (The Lonely Londoners).Read more
EN657 - The Brontes in Context
While the so-called Brontë myth remains potent in popular culture today, the lives-and-works model associated with it continues to encourage readers to seek partially concealed Brontë sisters in their fictions. Beginning and ending with the problematic of mythmaking its origins in Gaskells 'Life of Charlotte Brontë' and its subsequent perpetuation in film and other rewritings - this module will restore attention to the rich literary contribution made by the sisters through an intensive focus on their novels and selected poetry in the context of Victorian debates about gender and the woman question. Situating the Brontë myth in relation to other forms of mythmaking in the period (for example, ideologies of class, gender and empire), it will consider a small selection of film adaptations and go on to examine the Brontëss experiments with narrative voice and form, their variations upon the novel of education, the tensions between romance and realism in their writing and their engagement with religious and philosophical questions as well with the political, economic and social conditions of women in mid-Victorian culture. We will also consider a range of modern creative and critical engagements with the Brontës' literary works..Read more
EN658 - American Crime Fiction
This module explores the history and practice of crime fiction in the United States from Edgar Allan Poe in the 1840s through to the present day. Crime fiction will be understood broadly to encompass a range of generic categories such as detective, hardboiled and police procedural novels and stories. Attention will also be paid to developments in cinema and television which parallel those in fiction, such as film noir and the contemporary cop
series. Strong emphasis will be placed on historically informed reading and students will be encouraged to relate the close analysis of texts to shifts in narrative form as well as the establishment and transgression of generic conventions.
The study of American crime fiction reaches directly into the heart of many of the key concerns of undergraduate English. Questions about the distinctions between high and low culture, the seductiveness of particular narrative forms, and dialectic relations between literary and social history will all be addressed. Students will have the opportunity to read crime fiction alongside elements of Marxist, narrative and genre theory. Eventually they will
be able to consider how crime fiction has evolved in its engagement with questions of race, gender and sexuality in the United States, from the construction of white masculinity in the hardboiled genre to the policing of black communities in the neoliberal city.Read more
EN659 - Contemporary Irish Writing
Much Irish writing in the 20th and 21st centuries has been torn between tradition and innovation, between the need to define a national identity in opposition to Britain and the desire to transcend national boundaries and embrace a cosmopolitan modernity. With four nobel laureates in the 20th century (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, Heaney), modern Irish literature has gained international recognition. In recent years, Irish Literature has undergone surprising changes in theme and content, moving from the insularity of parochialism to the emergence of the 'Global Irish novel". The charting of this development will provide an important framework for the discussion in this module of recurrent issues in Irish writing, such as history, cultural memory, violence and society, queer sexualities and gender relations, national and cultural identities, and the negotiation of what the historian Roy Foster has called the 'varieties of Irishness'. The module will consider a broad variety of Irish writing from 1975 to 2014: sampling significant developments in poetry, drama and prose.Read more
EN661 - The Stranger
This course explores the intersections between nation, narration and globalisation in the twentieth and twenty-first century novel. It will focus this exploration through textual representations of 'the stranger', a figure theorised since the beginning of the twentieth century as symptomatic of modernity in European cultures, and more recently by postcolonial critics as the paradigm through which the effects of globalisation are encountered in contemporary multicultural national and transnational spaces. Students will be encouraged to analyse the historical and conceptual relations between novel and nation and the particular ways in which the body of the stranger has been reified through them. At the same time, they will be invited to consider the stranger as a disorientating embodiment of distance and proximity, and to evaluate how this dynamic constructs and deconstructs the form and boundaries of the novel as a genre, and the surrounding familial, national and racial paradigms of belonging. Through discussions of the theoretical work of writers such as Georg Simmel, Freud, Fanon, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Zygmunt Bauman, and Homi Bhabha, students will be asked especially to consider the mutual effects of estrangement across gendered, racial, and colonial divides. The broad aims of the course are to problematise the stranger as a literary means of orientating the individual and the nation; to situate the twentieth and twenty-first century novel as a symptomatic site for strange encounters; and to understand the extent to which it poses strangeness and homeliness as inseparable, necessary and possible acts of narration.Read more
EN667 - Harlem to Hogan's Alley: Black Writing in North America
This module will bring together works of poetry and fiction by a number of black writers in the USA and Canada in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. With a particular emphasis on migration, music, and urban space, we will explore the intellectual, political, and aesthetic imperatives that drive these writers to address questions of race, ethnicity, gender, belonging, representation, poverty, privilege, and trauma.
Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s, the moment when the Negro was in vogue, students will examine the ways in which black Americans and Canadians have sought to make their impact on the literary landscape, by turns exposing and employing the power structures of the dominant culture. This comparative look at US and Canadian literatures, however, also challenges students to scrutinize the construction of literary and other categories, and to consider the commonality and distinctive difference between black experience north and south of the 49th parallel.
Lectures/workshops will emphasise discussion of key moments and movements in African American / African Canadian arts; the significance of linguistic distinctiveness; the cultural self-categorisation of black, African American, Africadian and Halfrican identities; and the rise of African American literary theory.Read more
EN668 - Discovery Space: Theatres in Early Modern England
This module introduces students to the drama of Shakespeare's time, thinking in particular about the new theatrical buildings and the discoveries they made possible. The module encourages independent study and is consequently built around student interests as they develop their own research questions and essay topic.
This period saw the emergence of the first permanent purpose built playhouses, and the development of the theatre industry. We will consider how the conditions of performance and production such as playhouse architecture, the reportorial system, printing, censorship and London's changing urban environment affected playwrights, actors and audiences. Reading a range of playwrights, students will get a sense of the main trends which shaped the drama of the time, contextualising their understanding of canonical writers such as Shakespeare. Students will also engage with the current developments in early modern theatre history and the ways in which thinking about authorship, staging, printing and other key concepts from the period has altered over the last fifty years. As part of this work, we will examine the phenomena of modern 'reconstructed playhouses such as Shakespeares Globe, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and the American Shakespeare Centres Blackfriars, asking what - if anything - modern performance in these spaces can tell us about early modern practices.Read more
EN669 - Marriage, Desire and Divorce in Early Modern Literature
This module focuses on the theory and practice of marriage and divorce in early modern England and its treatment in the literature of the period. Examining a wide range of texts (drama, poetry, prose works and domestic handbooks alongside documentary sources such as wills, legal records and letters), it will explore the ways in which representations of marriage and its breakdown both reflected and informed the roles of men and women in early modern society. The relationships between discourses about gender, politics and the historical evidence about men and women's married lives in the period will be explored both through reading in the extensive secondary literature of gender, women's history and masculinity as well as through the study of primary sources such as wills, court records, advice books, popular literature (ballads and pamphlets, for example), literary texts (poems, plays and tracts), diaries and personal memoirs and material objects such as wedding rings and scolds bridles, for example. From Shakespeare and Fletcher's dramas of happy and unhappy marriage and Spenser's poetry of marital bliss, to argument surrounding men and women's roles in marriage in the poetry and pamphlets of Milton and his contemporaries, we will also go in search of the personal accounts of women and men's experiences of marriage and its breakdown and the material artefacts which are testament to them.Read more
Teaching and assessment
Teaching and assessment can vary between modules. All modules are taught by weekly seminars. In addition to seminars, the majority of literature modules also include a weekly lecture.
Assessment at Stage 1 and 2 is by a mixture of coursework and examination. Some modules may include an optional practical element.
Assessment at Stage 3 is by coursework only and may include an optional Long Essay, or students may opt to have one of their literature modules assessed by dissertation.
Attendance at seminars is required, and for all modules, you are assessed on your seminar contribution/performance.
The programme aims to:
- introduce you to a wide range of literatures, particularly British and American, from Chaucer to the present day, and encourage you to identify and develop your own interests and expertise in fields of literary study
- enable you to develop an historical and cross-cultural awareness of literary traditions and the ways in which they interact
- develop your understanding and critical appreciation of the expressive resources of language
- offer opportunities for you to develop your potential for creative writing
- offer generous scope for the study of literature within an interdisciplinary context
- enable you to follow a particular pathway within the context of English and American literary study
- develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
- develop your ability to assimilate and organise a mass of diverse information
- offer you the experience of a variety of teaching styles and approaches to the study of literature
- develop your capacity for independent critical thinking and judgement
- provide a basis for the study of English or related disciplines at a higher level
- provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach English literature, including a broad frame of cultural reference
- provide you with the opportunity to develop more general skills and competences so that you can respond positively to the challenges of the workplace or of postgraduate education.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- a wide range of authors, texts and cultures from 1350 to the present day in both British and American Literature
- the principal literary genres, fiction, poetry, drama and of other kinds of writing and communication
- the cultural, national and historical contexts in which literature is written, transmitted and read, particularly inflected by traditions of study in English, American and Postcolonial Literature
- awareness of the range and variety of approaches to literary study, include creative practice
- traditions in literary criticism
- the mechanisms of circulation and reception of literary texts
- critical theory and its applications, understood within its historical contexts
- the ways the study of literature relates to other disciplines
- the ways literary work relates to other aesthetic forms
- the history and conventions of the principal literary genres.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- listening to and absorbing the oral transmission of complicated data
- careful reading of literary works and theoretical material
- reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources, using power of analysis and imagination
- marshalling a complex body of information
- remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
- constructing cogent arguments
- formulating independent ideas and defending them in a plausible manner
- presenting arguments in written form in a time-limited context (examinations).
You gain the following subject-specific skills:
- enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary texts
- informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
- ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English studies
- sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature
- sensitivity to the problems of translation and cultural difference
- ability to articulate the relation between literary work and other aesthetic forms
- well-developed language use and awareness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
- articulate responsiveness to literary language
- appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
- understanding of how cultural norms, assumptions and practices influence questions of judgement
- appreciation of the value of collaborative intellectual work in developing critical judgement.
You develop the following transferable skills:
- developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view, orally and in written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
- enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
- developed critical acumen
- the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
- competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work
- enhanced skills in critical analysis
- enhanced capacity for independent thought, intellectual focus, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
- enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work, including more finely tuned listening skills
- the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
- research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
- IT skills: word-processing, email communication, the ability to access electronic data.
Our graduates have gone on to work in areas including:
- publishing and writing
- project management.
Our graduates include:
- Kazuo Ishiguro
- David Mitchell
- Sarah Waters.
Help finding a job
The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service, which offers advice on how to:
- apply for jobs
- write a good CV
- perform well in interviews.
Alongside specialist skills, you also develop the transferable skills graduate employers look for, including the ability to:
- think critically
- communicate your ideas and opinions
- work independently and as part of a team.
You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.
For graduate prospects, English was ranked 14th in The Times Good University Guide 2017.
According to Which? University (2017), the average starting salary for graduates of this degree is £18,000.
My job is as much about people as it is about numbers... my course taught me how to engage with other people and communicate well.Mark McBride English and American Literature BA
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
New GCSE grades
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
|Qualification||Typical offer/minimum requirement|
ABB including English Literature or English Language and Literature grade B
|Access to HE Diploma||
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis.
If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.
|BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)||
The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.
34 points overall or 17 points at HL, including HL English A1/A2/B at 5/6/6 OR English Literature A/English Language and Literature A (or Literature A/Language and Literature A of another country) at HL 5 or SL 6
The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English Language Requirements
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2018/19 regulated UK/EU tuition fees have not yet been set. The University intends to set fees at the maximum permitted level for new and returning UK/EU students. Please see further information below.
As a guide only the 2017/18 full-time UK/EU tuition fees for this programme are £9,250 unless otherwise stated:
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
Your fee status
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Fees for Year in Industry
For 2017/18 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,350. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.
Fees for Year Abroad
UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2017/18 academic year pay £1,350 for that year. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.
Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.
General additional costs
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.